RPB Zoners OK Change At Baptist Church To Allow More Parking

The Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission recommended approval of a small-scale land-use amendment Monday for 1.53 acres owned by the First Baptist Church of Royal Palm Beach, located on the north side of Okeechobee Blvd.

The change from multifamily high-density residential to commercial use will allow for additional parking at the church.

The property, which runs along the north side of the church, was owned by the village and was sold to the church last August.

The village’s entry sign is to the east, a Florida Power & Light easement is to the west and a portion of the La Mancha neighborhood abuts the north property line. Baseball fields and other public property are across Okeechobee Blvd. to the south. The land also is near a well field that hasn’t been in use since the village sold its water utility to Palm Beach County, Site Plan Coordinator Kevin Erwin said.

The site will utilize the existing stormwater outfall serving the site toward the west and into an existing pond owned by the village in the FPL easement, he added.

Jan Polson with the planning firm Cotleur & Hearing, representing the church, said one provision of the village’s sale of the land to the church was that it would seek a land-use and zoning change.

When the property was sold to the church, it was pointed out that the parcel was landlocked and there was hardly any other potential use for it, Polson said.

Erwin pointed out that the village sent notices to property owners immediately north of the site and that the proposal was publicized. The owner of the house north of the lot attended a meeting, and the church agreed to put up a fence to block access from Bilbao Street, he said.

Commissioner Joseph Boyle asked whether any conditions were demanded when the village sold the land, and Polson said a deed restriction limited it to a nonprofit use or public purpose.

“You are saying you want to put up a parking lot?” Boyle asked.

Village Attorney Brad Biggs said the transaction has both a purchase and sale agreement specifying that they are going to join the two parcels, as well as a quit-claim deed that said it has to be used as a religious property.

“It kind of takes away a lot of the concepts people might have about [commercial] property when they know it’s just going to be joined up with the rest of the church parcel,” Biggs said.

Boyle asked whether buildings could be put on the property, and Biggs said he did not think that was anticipated, but that whatever could work on the site plan with setbacks would be considered.

“It will be platted, and that 1.53 acres would be platted with the rest of the parcel,” Biggs said. “Whatever would work inside that box could then operate.”

Polson said her client was preparing the site plan, but that the area under discussion is designated for parking. “The current plan does show parking in that area, and I believe it is a grass parking area,” she said. “Most of the buildings that we have been working with the architect on are in similar locations to where the previous approval was, and that is up front, adjacent to the current sanctuary.”

Commission Vice Chair Richard Becher made a motion to approve the application, which carried 5-0.